THERME ERDING is the world's largest spa center that contains the world's largest sauna area or “sauna world”. The spa is located 20 km from Munich International Airport, less than 3 hours flight to Finland. For 44 euros, one can bath in 26 saunas for a whole day.
Tämä artikkeli on julkaistu myös suomeksi.
THERME ERDING name comes from the Roman megalomaniac bath facilities called thermae (plural thermae). THERME ERDING, is a honestely funded modern complex covering 185,000 m2, which is equivalent about 430 x 430 m!
The spa serves typically up to 8,000 people a day, over one and a half million customers a year! Erding is the name of a community in Bavaria and may sound familiar to a beer enthusiast.
The roots of the bath have a history of oil which discovered hot water instead of oil. Nowadays, this mineral water is pumped into the spa's enormous water pools.
In this article, I speak of a spa, I do not specify or analyze the special features of German sauna practices. If the German sauna culture is not familiar, I recommend reading the article on German sauna cultures.
How to raise a giant
THERME ERDING was not born a giant. When it opened in 1999 it was only great. Less than thirty million euros were used for construction and 110 employees were employed. In less than twenty years, the total investment has increased tenfold and the number of employees is now almost eight hundred per day. The latest hotel spa and site built a luxury hotel, costing as much as 100 million!
Spa was designed and built by the architect and entrepreneur Josef Wund, named the spa emperor. His son Jörg is nowadays both the owner and CEO of THERME ERDING. The Wund family now has a handful of similar, huge bath facilities around Germany.
Divide and rule
Therme is divided into five areas. Of these, the most interesting for sauna people is VitalThermen + Saunas (Spa Area & Saunas). There are additional areas, the family Therme spa, tropical spa area VitalityOasis Waterpark, GALAXY ERDING waterslidepark and Wavepool area. This challenging string of names already hints about the complexity of the park.
VitalThermen + Saunas calls itself the world's largest sauna area. In February 2017, there were 26 different saunas! In fact, there are more saunas in the spa area of VitalityOasis. Two of the saunas are only for women. The sauna world is visited by less than one third of all daily visitors, some 1500 people. On the other hand, during the high season, the number of people in the saunas may be double.
The amount of saunas seems to go beyond quality, but this is by no means a criticism of individual saunas - most of them are very interesting. In the center you will find all the heated rooms of a Roman spa, historic and modern Central European saunas, Finnish and Russian saunas, steam baths and everything in between. In the middle of the saunas there are large hot water pools as well as relaxation areas where you can even nap during the day.
Route to baths
We visited Erding on Friday in February. We arrived shortly after the spa of ten opened.
The spa complex has one main entrance, twenty meters from the bus stop and car parks. After that, the guests of the various departments spread to their own areas. VitalThermen & Saunas can be accessed through four cashiers. The cash dispenser receives a numbered magnetic wrist band. The number indicates the number of the cabinet.
At this stage, a preliminary, time-based entry fee is paid. If you are having a longer time, this will eventually lead to a separate hourly charge. The entrance fee for saunas is higher than the rest of the area and allows access to all other area as well. The shortest time is 2 hours, which is not enough even for exploring the sauna area. Even four hours is a short time to experience all the saunas. Currently the internet ticketing works only in German.
At check-in you can rent a towel and a bathrobe. Flip flops can not be rented, but they are sold at the spa entrance hall store. Dressing facilities are common to the sexes, but private kits are also available for changing clothes. Thereafter there are separate shower rooms and toilets on the way to the spa section.
The road branches after the showers to separate VitalTherme + Saunas area. Saunas are reminded of both the ban on telephones and computers and the ban of bathing suits. It easiest to move around the sauna area in a bathrobe. However, on the side of VitalTherme and other spas, swimming gear are needed, so if you are planning an adventure outside the sauna world, then you should bring them both swimming gear and a bathrobe.
Video of the whole spa: (use the link if the video above is not loading)
Experiences from the THERME ERDING saunas
The sauna world is divided into outdoor space and interior. The interior is subdivided into several rooms, the first of which is a Roman spa with various hot and warm rooms and pools. The atmosphere of the pool is somewhat disturbed by the foam floaters, which make it easier for the pool to keep its head on the surface. However, if you submerge your ear under the surface, you’ll be surprised with underwater classical music.
The interior continues to the largest lounge area with hundreds of beach chairs, palm trees, large indoor pool with bars and separate lounges. The area is clearly designed so that hundreds of adjacent guests can easily spread around the spa.
The hot water pool called Vitality pool continues outside as well. The sandy beach was quite chilly during the winter, but the main reason to venture out is a large outbuilding named Stonehenge, with three saunas in the vicinity. Among them Celtic throne saunas boasts huge Finnish sauna stove! The temperature is also typical of Finnish sauna.
When moving in the outside area, the clothing is optional. During the winter time, however, we did not run into naturists, but the bathrobed people walked quickly around the steaming outdoor pool and the landscaping lake.
The sauna filled at full during aufguss (the German ritual), almost a hundred bathers crowding the benches. Next sauna in Stonehenge includes a semicircular projection of street-reflective videos or star-beat simulation in the ceiling. Too special for me.
Stonehenge is in the immediate vicinity of the most recent sauna, the Russian Bath (Russische Banja). The style of a Russian style may be a bit defective, but the sauna has an impressive look.
It is a monumental, “white” sauna built of the gigantic Siberian larch. The size of the sauna tells you that you can hold 120 people at one time! There is enough heat from two large electric stoves. The interior is also so airy that the atmosphere is a bit like in the church. For a surcharge, the bargain was made available to experience Russian whisking in person or during aufguss, apparently also for free.
There are numerous showerheads, various cool waterfalls and four cold water plunge pools in the sauna area. In addition to the large outdoor area, fresh air and winter cool air can be enjoyed from many smaller terraces. Among other things, the Finnish spirit-bearing Kelosauna is somewhat separate of the main complex, although it is not within the outdoor area.
There are also two saunas and an area for women which we didn’t try to explore. For the sake of equality, or humor, there is also a sauna where a local beer brand serves an non-alcoholic beer during the "Men only" ritual.
Describing all saunas is not possible here. However, it is mentioned that the best impression on me was that of the Geysir sauna (Geysir höhle), whose 60 degree temperature is compensated by high humidity and excellent ventilation. Every once in a while the steaming water jet was mostly sympathetic.
My traveling companion Matti praised the steam rooms most, the implementation of which is often poor in Finland. In addition, the atmosphere of Celtic throne sauna made an unforgettable impression on him.
In addition to water, the spa offers beer, wine and other soft drinks in numerous small restaurants. The pool bars serve cocktails. Payment takes place on a magnetic wrist brand. According to staff, only up to three alcoholic beverages can be purchased per day.
Granted, we did not test whether the rule was in some way programmed into the payment system. Prices for food and beverages were reasonable, given the local price level, which means that Therme does not exploit its pricing possibilities. I believe that this is a question of conscious choice, because the spa strives to foster the loyal customer relationships and to make people stay as long as possible. With expensive and bad food that would not happen in Germany.
ROYAL DAY SPA
The customers of the spa are varied sorts. Typically, the spa is accessed by couples and spa services are also designed accordingly. Service called the ROYAL DAY SPA includes a variety of wellness services, private, bookable lounges or small rooms that are located here in the spa.
The purpose of these rooms rented for 40-180 euros is to guarantee couples a peaceful retreat. The most expensive seats include a bottle of champagne and non-alcoholic beverages. The rules of conduct are valid even in these areas.
Themes and events
Most of the customers are not in the spa for the first time. This is a clear sign of good service. One factor to maintain interest is the different themes and special events. In February 2017, only the sauna area day program included nearly one hundred different daily ceremonies! Additionally special events contain even more program, when the sauna area may have an orchestra playing .
The most popular events are the German favorite aufguss rituals that are performed at least every half an hour somewhere. In addition to the aufgusses, skin care is available with honey, yoghurt, salt, or chocolate, and for men, the previously mentioned beer "ceremony".
On every first Saturday evening Therme is open until one at night.
The currently ongoing program to find online or printed pamphlet Mein Urlaubstag.
Traveling to and staying in Erding
The Hotel Victory (120-400 € / night) is located in the vicinity of the spa and the Gästehaus Victory (100-200 € / night) is a bit more affordable bit further off. However, accommodation capacity is limited and expensive. This is explained by the fact that most guests arrive within a couple of hundred kilometers radius with their own cars.
A cost effective alternative for a Finnish tourist is to stay at the Munich Airport hotels (from 50 € / night). Part of the hotels are available for hotel spa packages. These hotels can be found in the listing of partner hotels page . At the time of writing, 16 collaborating hotels were listed. For example, Hotel Faltermaier offers Purchase online all day ticket and double rooms with breakfast for 166€. Multiple days of visions compared to cheaper.
Public transport to the spa can be reached, but it is unfortunate to be difficult. For example, the airport enters a bus to Erding, but buses 560, 560 and 570 to the spa do not necessarily leave the same station. Instead, the S2 train from Munich will hit the Altenerding station crossing the buses. However, a train trip from Alternerding to the center of Munich will take some 40 minutes. With public transport adventures, the DB Navigator application helps.
Direct return flights from Helsinki to Munich can be obtained from Lufthansa and Finnair, at best for less than 150 euros.
Shadows in sauna paradise
Almost everything in this sauna theme park worked well at least on a peaceful winter day. German sauna guests are mostly well-behaved. The only rule that is regrettably broken in the spa is to reserve loungers. Despite the forbiddance, the Germans systematically reserve each reclining chair and then go for a bath.
When in the early afternoon I was looking for to pressed my head, all the deck chairs and other sleeping places were flagged with different towels. The actual occupancy rate of the chairs was less than one third.
No misbehavior caught our eye, but it is quite clear that a variety of disorder will inevitably arise if over 500 people meet at any place. The fact that valuables (wallets and mobile phones) are usually not included will certainly reduce worries.
Even though a lot of people are beginning to get somewhere in their own right. We were on the spot outside the local holiday periods, when the staff at the sauna estimated the visitors to be around 600 people. Some of the saunas were still empty, but the atmosphere was at its worst at the time of the aufguss, so I did not dive in. This apparently did not bother locals.
I would not have liked to have been there any more popular day. I can not imagine how croweded saunas are during the German winter holidays or holidays! If you want a more peaceful experience, you should arrive on weekdays or in the summer. Christmas is all about the hectic time and on Saturdays, Sundays and local public holidays the place is full despite an extra charge. In the summer, the use of outdoor areas would be more comfortable.
One small drawback are communications. Since there is so much to offer, it is difficult to tell the visitors everywhere you can do and buy. This is unlikely to disturb the tourists because, just in the corner, you will always find something new during one day. It can also be influenced by the fact that most of the communication material is in Germany, which is not a strong language for myself. Inverted messages in English are mostly abbreviated or non-existent.
The Wund’s Thermae in Erding is a very magnificent sight. In addition to the sauna area presented here, there are four other areas under the same roof of more than three hundred meters. For instance, GALAXY ERDING, which promotes itself as the Europe's largest water park or water slide park.
The services are also reasonably priced, so you can warmly recommend it to a full-length sauna lover. The only risk is that after that after the visit, Finnish saunas start to feel boring. The megalomaniac of Erding is amazing and every serious friend of the sauna should in my opinion to experience it.
For a quiet Finnish sauna experience the place to go is not Erding. If, instead, you are brave enough to try different types of sweat baths, grab your own sweetheart and take a flight to Munich!
Before booking a trip, you should read the article on German sauna customs (in Finnish) and look at the following video describing the health effects of the sauna in Erding:
There is a lot of information on the site itself, especially in german. For example, the automatic translation of the Google Chrome browser helps to interpret pages, for example, in English for the parts that are not already available so
Photos: THERME ERDING (in the name of the pictures) and Lassi Liikkanen
Many thanks to Matti and extremely helpful THERME ERDING staff!